I'm pregnant and I Crossfit--now what?!?
|3 months pregnant|
What's safe for the baby?
What will my doctor think?
How much do I need to modify?
I'm certainly not an expert, but my goal is to share my story and some helpful resources.
My Crossfit coaches were the first people my husband and I told about our pregnancy. We told them at 6 weeks and waited to tell anyone else (including family) until 13 weeks. I felt that they were a part of our healthcare team--just like our OB/GYN--and needed to know in order to help me make good choices in the gym. Fortunately for me, several awesome women have had babies at our gym during the past year, and they set a great example for staying empowered and active throughout the entire nine months.
I was very lucky during my first trimester. I avoided the dreaded morning sickness and fatigue that plague many women. It seems important to say that upfront, because I have friends who used every ounce of energy just to get through the workday during the first tri. In that situation, it seems necessary and obvious to cut yourself some slack and really reduce your expectations in the gym.
My First Trimester Symptoms:
- Tons of food aversions! Almost all food sounded very gross, and then all of a sudden feeling ravenously hungry (but still not being able to figure out what to eat.)
- Sore boobs! Double unders and burpees were incredibly uncomfortable at times.
- Lots of bloating & constipation in the evenings.
- Some days feeling very weak in the gym (with "easy" weights feeling challenging.)
- Feeling so overheated!
- Very thirsty, but also having to pee non-stop.
The weird thing about the first trimester is that there's nothing visibly different about you. You look the same and most likely no one at your gym even knows your pregnant. However, on the inside, massive changes are happening. Not only are all your hormones changing, but your body is beginning to produce 50% more blood--which requires a lot of water, electrolytes, and energy. For me, there were good days at the gym where I felt pretty normal and strong...and there were days when I felt weak and frustrated and had a hard time accepting my slow time or weak lifts. My ego wanted to shout out "guess what--I'm pregnant! That's why my time is so bad! That's why I couldn't lift very much." It was hard to turn off that competitive spirit that many of us Crossfitters possess.
What Did I Modify in the Gym?
The biggest modification I made was to my attitude. I tried to just be proud of myself for showing up 4-5 times per week and feel less attached to the score next to my name. I also stopped doing sit-ups after about 8 weeks. I became an unashamed fan hog. I took more frequent rest to catch my breath and drink water. I also quit during a WOD for the first and only time...I was feeling slightly dizzy and extremely out of breath. It was so hard on my pride and who knows if it was even necessary, but looking back on it, I'm glad I erred on the side of caution.
What Didn't Change?
I didn't stop pushing myself to whatever my personal best was for the day. Some days my performance looked better than others--but each time it was my best effort. I PR'ed my front squat, back squat, and weighted pull-ups before I knew I was pregnant. Then I PR'ed my clean & jerk and my split jerk during my first trimester, knowing I was pregnant. I felt great those days and so I went for it. I continued doing all movements (except sit-ups.)
The least helpful resource was my doctor. She was clueless about Crossfit. I think very few doctors will enthusiastically endorse any "high intensity" exercise during pregnancy. I read things on the internet about certain heart rate thresholds or the "talk test." I cannot hold a regular conversation during the warm-up jog at Crossfit, so being able to keep a normal conversation as an indicator of how much exercise is okay just seemed laughable. Here are a few sites that I found truly helpful:
BirthFit: I highly recommend BirthFit because I find it to be the most empowering and least conservative advice for pregnant Crossfitters. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram and you'll enjoy seeing photos & videos every day of pregnant Crossfitters hitting PR's and staying active.
Crossfit Mom : I like Crossfit Mom as a resource, but find it to be very conservative. I'm now almost 31 weeks pregnant and haven't implemented very many of the modifications she suggests. If you or your spouse or your doctor are very concerned about doing Crossfit while pregnant, you can follow her suggested modifications to really be on the "safe side."
Crossfit Redondo Pregnancy Stories: These are some of the women at my gym that inspired me. I think reading stories and seeing examples of other women helps give a sense of confidence during a time when the pregnancy still feels new and overwhelming. More and more women are writing blogs about their Crossfit journey while pregnant. My own personal bias is to try and only read positive stories, especially during the first tri. Your mind will naturally worry about how your baby is growing and developing. Even one random comment or post on the internet that's negative or fear-based can linger in your mind and make you second guess yourself.
The first trimester goes by quickly in the grand scheme of things. Try to stay as active and healthy as possible. Even if it's a struggle to get to the gym, you'll find you have more energy later on because you went. Trust your body. Your body knows how to grow your baby. Your body also knows how to do Crossfit. In fact, you were doing Crossfit while pregnant for 3-4 weeks before you even knew you were growing a baby. Let that thought comfort you. Your body knows what it's doing. Just try to listen to your body and make any small adjustments that give you peace of mind or comfort, while staying active.